On March 15th a further indication that the invasion was near occurred when the Regiment received orders to close all Regimental accounts. In early April the DD squadrons once again took up residence at Shangri-La while the Regiment moved to Fort Gomer a few miles away. However, the shortage of accommodations resulted in the majority of the soldiers being under canvas nearby in what became known as “Tent Town” near the operational vehicles which were all parked on the beach at Lee-on-Solent. Large dumps of fuel, ammunition, food, and quarter-master stores were created here as well. Another activity noted in the War Diary at this time involved painting of white allied recognition stars on the roof and sides of all vehicles. While this practice is mentioned and shown in many references of the period, we have yet to find an image of this on a Hussar vehicle. Certainly, Holy Roller pictured below waiting to board its landing craft in Lee-on-Solent on June 3rd does not have one on its side.
Holy Roller waiting to board its LCT June 3, 1944
Some indication of the intensity of these activities might be understood by the fact that on the 25th of April the Regiment paraded only the barest minimum of soldiers when it was once again visited by King George VI who, nevertheless, took the opportunity to wish the assembled troops “Best of luck” in their spearhead role in the coming invasion. As might be imagined all of the frenetic activity involved in these preparations left very little time for entertainment. However, on the 30th of April the Regiment held its last dance in England in the village of Brokenhurst. Held as it was in the midst of all of the suspense and anticipation surrounding the impending invasion it was by all accounts a very gay affair.
King George VI Inspects the 1st Hussars
Following Exercise Fabius III in early May things began to move very quickly. Water proofing and vehicle alterations continued until the last minute. On the 19th of May the entire Regiment and all of its equipment and stores minus the DD squadrons moved to Fort Munckton. On the 20th of May the men turned in their kit bags with all of their non-essential equipment. The kit bags would be returned later in France. On the 21st Codes to be used from D1-D10 were distributed. On the 23rd the assault waves began moving into their marshaling areas. On the 25th the men were issued their battle equipment including shell dressings and specially treated “Anti vermin” clothing and the camp was sealed. On the 27th the men of A and B squadrons were paid each receiving 200 French Francs.
A and B Squadrons were loaded onto their Landing Craft Tanks on June 2nd. RHQ and C Squadron loaded on the 3rd and moved to the assembly area at Southampton docks. Morale was very high and while the men were quite excited, they were also relaxing as much as possible. Some wrote letters while others sunbathed. However, the Army being the Army decided the men should not be idle and needed some exercise. As a result, on the 4th of June the Regiment conducted a route march around the Southampton Docks. And, in typical soldier humour one perspiring trooper was heard to remark “Here I am spending what might be my last day in England and I have to go on another damn route march”.
Landing Craft Tanks Loaded and ready June 4, 1944